NBI Is Upon Us: Write the Post, Don’t Save the World

The 2014 edition of the New Blogger Initiative is here. I have not had the time to help out much in year’s past, and it is looking more and more like I won’t be able to contribute much this year either. Which is fine! There is a whole crop of excellent bloggers in recent years who have leapt onto the scene with more energy than I am able to muster these days.

Your best bet is to read them and listen to them!

I just wanted to dispense one piece of advice for anyone writing or thinking of writing a blog: Don’t feel like you have to save the world with every post.

Posts come in all shapes and sizes. Some bloggers like Wilhelm at The Ancient Gaming Noob or now mostly dark sites like Wall of Text (Brent) or Stylish Corpse (Ysharros) are famous for long, seemingly effortless posts of a thousand words or more. But that may not be your style. If you feel like you have said what you wanted to, and it looks like a half a page or maybe even just a paragraph, be content.

I think the impression sometimes (particularly if you are coming from social media first) is that this is the long form, and needs to fit within that. But if you want your posts to be 140 words or less…go for it. You are not a journalist, and this is not a writing class with grading requirements.

Log in, tap out what you want to say, and call it a day. You might be surprised what kind of thoughts and comments you get, when you don’t fill up all the space with words of your own.

ETA: Here is a round up of the week one posts for NBI. Also, I’m on Scree’s new blog listing thingy now, so I think I’m supposed to add this here: #nbi

Thinking Forward

So things have been slow around here. I was gone for two weeks, that was part of it. Part of it is that my growing congregation has had me hopping since January (we are getting near the point of needing to hire another staff person). Part of is is that I continue to spend most of my time in WoWp, which is of little interest to the wider world of MMO players.

Well, outside of testing time, most of which is under NDA. So, that doesn’t help either.

I have spend a little time here, because Trion is taking *way* too long...
I have spend a little time here, because Trion is taking *way* too long…

In an effort to get back on track a little, and ease back into the writing process, I’m going to do a series of brief posts called “Five for Friday.” It may be five thoughts, five arguments, five counterarguments, a list of five favorites, or five not so favorite things. Something along those general lines. And, it will be on Fridays (obviously), with the first one coming tomorrow (barring disastrous circumstances).

Hope you all are having fun in your respective game worlds. I know I have been enjoying mine.

2013 Crystal Ball Review

So I pondered what I was going to do last January about predictions. I decided that instead I would look at what I was looking forward to the most and least, and ask some questions that could only be answered a year later. That way I could come back a year later “with some wisdom and hindsight and laugh and make obscene hand gestures at myself for how dumb or idealistic I was.” It worked out way better than I could have thought. If you are still missing the point here, think of it this way. I buried a time capsule for my future self with a bunch of questions about the coming year, and now I get to reflect and pontificate on them. It is glorious.

So in the “looking forward to” section I had a couple of entries:

Hearing More About ArcheAge Online and Possible Release Dates

Sadly, we haven’t really heard anything more. An enterprising EU team (of Germans if I understand correctly) from Impact Community have made and kept up to date a skill calculator for the game in English, which is fantastic. You can use it here to build your class from the 120 possible combinations. Keep in mind that even if you have the same combination of skill trees as me, your picks will be different. For the curious, I plan on utilizing Devotion (healing), Finesse (Rogue-ish abilities), and Necromancy (pretty self-explanatory…). Which is the class known as…wait for it…the Writer.

The lack of news was a result of Trion finding its balance I think. Scott Hartsman leaving and then returning as the new head honcho bodes well for the company, but despite his protests to the contrary, I’m sure those waves within the company had a push-back effect on the game. I still hope for a 2014 launch, and I am of course signed up for Beta. I simply can’t wait to get my hands on this title, and I’m all but begging for more information. So if you are out there…pretty please.

Expanding My Tier 10 Garage

And expand I did. I collected all the tanks I originally set out to, except for the IS-7. The arrival of the Chinese line and the pressing needs of my previous clan for certain tier 10 tanks caused a shift in that final drive. Right now I am sitting about 50k from the Object 140, 150k from the IS-7, and 225k from the E-100. However, with Warplanes occupying almost all my PvP time these days, I’m just not sure how active I’m going to be over that way. We will see. I have to think that, in part, getting kicked to the curb by my former clan is at least part of my decline in tanks interest. I can say for sure that while I still enjoy the game, I am done with Clan Wars for the forseeable future.

Nostalgia: Vanguard

Here we come to the first bust of the year. I was really really looking forward to getting into Vanguard. I love the setting, and I love my character. I loved playing the game. I even went out and bought a card for a month’s sub. But the progression is just too damn slow. Its a snail’s pace and that is really discouraging. And beyond that, I died. A lot. Against even level or +1 content. Which forced me into lower level quests, which then lowered my progression that much more. My only hope now is that the max level character program is successful in EQ2 and is ported over to Vanguard. That’s a setting where I really don’t care what quests I’m doing, I just want to roam the world and explore. And I can’t do that with a 20 something character that keeps getting his ass handed to him by random wolves. And I’m a healer to boot.

Battlefield 3

This game really, really wound down for me this year. I still have a buddy who is hardcore into 4 right now, but I just can’t bring myself to it. I put the game on my Christmas list so I’m sure I will get in some time come the new year, but…the verve is gone, as I predicted. I think it was probably back around summer time when I last logged in, but I can’t remember for sure.

Star Trek Online

I finally got my Ambassador class! That was indeed the anniversary ship. I played my new Romulan to level 10, and then couldn’t decided which way to go. Most of the KDF content is unknown to me, but my gaming buddy I was leveling with wanted to go STO. So I did what anyone with indecision does…nothing. I quit playing. I come back occassionally and am always pleasently surprised with how good the game is. I play a storyline mission or two, and that satisfies me. And then of course, if there is a fun ship up for grabs or a new story to tackle, I’m in as well. But day to day play I am out. If I could find an active, friendly fleet that wasn’t comprised of 300 jerks, that would help, but other than starting my own fleet, which would be a pain to play catchup with at this point, I just don’t think I can find something that is a good fit for me.

And then there was my second category – questions I asked myself about the coming year. This is the best part. Are you ready?

Will the small indy developed sandboxes of Dawntide and Project Gorgon be revived?

No and yes, in that order. Dawntide lost funding and sometime last month or so, the website shut down completely. That one stings. Dawntide was *the* sandbox title in my book. It had lots of great things going for it, and I’m very discontent that the doors have closed for good. Project Gorgon, on the other hand, continues to poke and prod its way into development, which is about the best the team can hope for, given that its sort of a nights and weekends project while they put food on the table from elsewhere. If you’d like to log in and play around, feedback is appreciated. Just be aware that if the game warns you about something, its not kidding around. Turning yourself into a cow is a real possibility if you aren’t careful. And by cow, I mean cow. Literally.

Will some unexpected MMO suck me in this year, much as STO did last year?

Yep. TERA did that for me pretty hard. It wins the award here. I’m still playing and still having fun. You know why? Its the only MMO I can think of where I could turn off the UI and still play it. It wins the award for funnest combat and immersion in that sense. To a lesser extend, I enjoyed UWO, which has left the hands of NetMarble and ended up with…uh…OGPLanet. No, I have no idea who that is either. There is a good chance I go back and play that some more in the near future.

There are three others I played that did not suck me in though. The Old Republic was there when I needed an emotional crutch, and by all rights that should have launched me right back into the game. But the bad storylines for my main character were oppressive, and the content I was working through for a second time with my Sorcerer was boring. Which left me with an itch to go through on the light side as a Jedi. But I’m so sick of Tython that I was physically ill trying to play through it for what has to be the dozenth time. Until they allow character transfers and I can bring over my level 11 from another server (you know, before they announced that whole Legacy thing. Thanks again for that, jerkwards at Bioware), I’m not headed back.

I had a similar problem in The Secret World, where trying to get through the starting area for the umpteenth time just wore me out. If I can ever push through that starting map, I’ll be golden though, because there is nothing about the game I don’t like.

Last of the trifecta was LotRO. The summer home of my little group, once we all got stable internet again, it seemed like a good idea. I certainly had fun, and all three of us are fans of the IP. But between the crappy and buggy launcher that caused at least one of us problems *every week* when we logged in, and the fact that our healer was soloing the content while I as tank and our DPS person followed along behind them (Guitar Power in LotRO is OP!), it got old after awhile. So I played with the group, and enjoyed it, but it was far from sucking me in.

Will we finally see some information on Titan or Everquest 3?

Well, Titan, no, not really. But Everquest 3, or Everquest Next as we now know it, was all the rage. And my personal opinion was…meh. Basically, from what I have seen…its not Everquest. In fact, if you had given me the pictures and watermarked it with Blizzard or Titan, I wouldn’t have even batted an eyelash at the deception. So…looks like I’ll be passing on that one.

Is there any chance of me logging into TOR in 2013?

Yes, but it took the death of a friend to bring me to it. Think about that for a moment. That’s how strong the emotional rejection of a game that has failed you can be.

And don’t even get me started about that failure of an expansion….

Will Wildstar be the unmitigated failure I think it will be?

To its credit, Wildstar seems to be building steam as it goes along. I am still singularly unimpressed by what I see and read, and completely turned off by the graphics. The final nail in the coffin was learning that races and classes will be limited. Welcome back to MMO’s, a la 2004. Good job guys.

***

So there ya go, that was my Crystal Ball for 2013. Its been a bit of a wild ride. I’m looking forward to what 2014 has in store, and I have more questions and answers to go to. But I’ll leave those for another post.

All Quiet On the Blogging Front

I’ve been a bit busy in the clouds lately. It turns out, I’m pretty good at this World of Warplanes thing.

goin goin goin

So I’ve been working my way up the bracket around the usual busy holiday season. Last year I managed all of four posts in the month of December. I imagine this year will be about the same.

I have on tap a post about how games are never well served by making major changes during a game’s Open Beta (as Mechwarrior Online, and most recently, WarThunder have proven). And a post reviewing my “Looking Ahead” post from last January, and wondering what 2013 would bring (which is going to be very interesting, there has been movement in just about every area). And last but not least – a caption contest, with a prize.

In the meantime, I hope you are enjoying the holidays and staying warm.

Don’t Cross the Streams!

In a rare treat for you all today, Rowan from I Have Touched The Sky is making a guest appearance on this blog…

 

2013-08-17_215822
Rowan on the far right. I’m the one in the center that Rowan’s Shadetouched Hound is sniffing at.

 

What, you thought he was going to post his stream of thought here or something?! He has his own blog for that.

 

When I was online the other night, I opened my friends list, expecting to toss and invite to my brother, since my Friend count was at: 1.  Turned out it was Rowan.   And we were actually in the same zone.   I told him later that is the MMO equivalent of seeing somebody you know in the grocery store.   So one thing led to another and we spent the night playing around in The Gloomy Woods (TM).

 

Anyway, it was a good time, and was a fun crossover type event for two people whose primary interaction is comments on each other’s writings.

 

That actually came together with another unique life event for me yesterday.  My awesome TOR guild, Beskar, has left me with many friends I keep contact with.  But yesterday was a rare treat – one of the guys I have known for over three years now (!) was driving through town on a trip and we got together for lunch and to see some of the sights downtown together.

 

We had a great time, and it left me wishing I had an opportunity to cross paths with more of them.  Some of them are simply too far away and/or live in small towns that I won’t travel to or near unless it is a specific trip to see them.  And some do not wish to be seen in real life – and I don’t want to be critical about that choice, because it is a perfectly valid one.

 

But…I have a feeling that maybe the biggest problem with internet friendships and acquaintances is that we don’t let them far enough outside the box.   Like the title of the post, we are afraid something bad will happen is MMO friend or FB friend somehow becomes RL friend.   Or vice versa – how many of us grew up scared to share our RPG hobbies with RL friends?   Which is scarier – inviting someone to church/social event, or asking someone out on a date, or inviting them to come play some DnD with you?  Or are those things, as I suspect, just about equal in the “nope, nope, nope” category?

 

And what happens when those interactions, already difficult in real life, have to cross into real life from cyberspace?  I friended two people from my World of Tanks clan on Facebook two weeks ago, and one of the guys jokingly said “Is this allowed?”  But we had a lot in common (his wife is a pastor at a church not far from a seminary buddy of mine) and got along well – why not?  I consider myself fortunate that in addition to my regular feed of English on Facebook, its not uncommon for me to see posts in Danish, Czech, Spanish, German, Arabic, and Urdu.  All from gaming connections.

 

Again, I’m not lobbying for everyone out there to knock down my door with Facebook requests.  I’m just saying its nice to see a trend of crossing streams in lots of different ways – cross game guilds and clans, social media contacts outside of games, the occasional real life lunch get-together or Con meet up.   There is always something refreshing about spending time with friends, no matter how you first met or what brought you together this time around.

 

So, unless you are facing Zuul on a rooftop at night with an unlicensed nuclear reactor strapped to your back…consider crossing the streams occasionally.  Its pretty awesome.

I leave for one week…

And you all write 45+ blog posts.  And none of them are fluff….oh no.   We couldn’t make it easy to catch up could we?  And Wilhelm…he is writing full dissertations on things like Inventory Management and Blogging Community.

 

And just to add to the backlog, my tanking clan up and changed out the entire Command Staff.   I have more posts to catch up on than I can conveniently count on my piggies.

 

You people are awesome.  Seriously.  I’ve heard that blogging is dead, but I’m in blog heaven right now.  Keep it up, please.

State of My Game: June

This is a nutso week for me.  I was gone for three days and came back just in time for my wife to fly out for four days, and then we can have a nice peaceful two days together before I’m gone again another week.

 

So, I don’t have much time to write.  Or play.  But here’s a general rundown on where I am right now:

 

World of Tanks:  Unfortunately between travel and single-parenting, I haven’t gotten much of anywhere lately.  And all our Clan Wars matches have been super early.  And my client crashed on my laptop.  So I upgraded my desktop drivers to the new 320’s.  That worked…for a day.  Then they started crashing again.  I guess I just got a lemon video card.  Oi.   Anyway, so now we are back to laptop play.    I haven’t made any significant progress on my tier 9’s  About the only thing I can say is that I have fallen in love with the SU-100M1.  It is fast, has nice angled armor, insane travserse speed.  And the upgraded gun is super accurate and drills out shots every six seconds or so.   Tier 9’s are sometimes and issue, but the game is so accurate and the tank so fast, that even getting the best of them is not often a difficult prospect.  I can relocate, and on occasion I’ve even circled them to great effect.  Great tank that I will be holding onto as I continue to climb the line.

 

The new camo's are pretty awesome, btw...
The new camo’s are pretty awesome, btw…

 

Star Trek Online:  The new Romulan content is great, but I’m stuck with analysis paralysis.  I really don’t know whether to go KDF or FED.  And so I haven’t done either.  Really, despite the new content, what I would like to do now is go back and play all the KDF missions with my level 50 engineer.  I leveled solely through Duty Officers with him, mostly because the UI was such a RED EYESORE ATTACK.   Now that this has been fixed, I’d like to run the actual content.  Oh, and I think I will be shelling out for at least one of the Romulan refit ships.

 

Hello, gorgeous. I would trade my pointy ears for you.

 

Uncharted Waters Online:  I dinked around a bit last week, but that’s about it.   I really want to go finished the advanced schools and start doing some exploring…

 

Lord of the Rings Online:  I think we finished up the Lone Lands this past weekend.  It has been slow going with my travel, but we are still enjoying ourselves.  We talked about trying one of the 3-person instances soon.  That could be trouble though since I can’t even hold aggro on regular mobs, must less boss monsters.  We will see I guess!

 

The Secret World:  I’m back, and I rolled a Templar.  Surprise!  While I have never really been a self-modeler or self-biographer in my roleplaying, there was one thing the Templars offered that nobody else did that I decided I absolutely couldn’t live without:

 

I can only dream of being this stylish IRL...
I can only dream of being this stylish IRL…

 

Plus it goes with a healer build.  Right up my alley.

 

Anyway, this may be it for the next week and a half.  Game well everyone!

Quote of the Week

This time of the year really heats up for me, vocationally, so I apologize for the lack of posts.  I still have another post on Project Gorgon to pop out, and some other things floating around, but they will just have to wait.  For now though, I got  a chuckle from bhagpuss‘ comment on TAGN’s latest EQ2 nostalgia offering:

 

One thing you could never accuse SoE of is consistency, which is almost top of the list of why they’re my favorite MMO developers.

 

I thoroughly agree with SOE’s inability to handle any sort of consistency, but I’m not sure that is quite what endures me to them.  I suppose its the almost puppy-like sense of enthusiasm and the way in which the entire group seems to consist of “FIRE, AIM, READY” people, which is very much part and parcel to my personality as well.

I Heard You Want to Write a Blog

So get to it.  I’m too lazy and already a member of too many forums, so I’m not joining the ones over at NBI.  But yes, you should start a blog.  And there is really only one piece of advice you need.  Write steadily, somewhere between 1 and 3 times a week.  Do it for a year, and people will find you.  Do it for two years, and people will recognize you.   Do it for three years, and you’ll be a veteran like most of the people on those forums giving advice.

 

But if you are going to do it, do it for yourself.  If blogging only makes you happy when you have a dozen comments at the end of each post, you’ve probably missed the point of blogging altogether.

Catching Up

So I’ve been a busy boy, between stuff at work and a week out of town and the stomach bug.  So lets do a little recap roundup shall we?

 

TOR – I have both my characters in the mid-20’s now.  I grind out about a level a week, which is pretty normal for me.   I just hit Tattoine for the first time last night and it felt…weird.   Landing on Tatooine as an Imperial Agent just felt so *not* Star Wars.  In fact, the whole Empire thing is starting to wear on me a bit.  I may have to let one of those two Imp characters lay idle for a bit so I can scratch the Republic itch.  I will wait until update 1.2 though – the Legacy system means that my Republic alts, all at level 10 on another server are basically useless to me.  And I am not running through Tython for the umpteenth time without Sprint if I can help it.

 

World of Tanks – I’ve spent the last week doing my runs on the Test Server, which has been a breath of fresh air.  The Russian players are actually quite nice, and much more skilled than their American counterparts.  I have wondered lately if I was just bad at WoT or if the teams were so bad it was hard to excel, and its definitely the latter.  In all the matches I’ve played on the test server, I’ve only once seen the team deploy poorly, without watching the map.  As one EU player said after a match, “we didn’t get beat because we made bad choices, we just got beat because they were better than us.”  I don’t get many of those matches on the regular server.   Much as patch 1.2 for TOR will turn it into what it should have been at launch, patch 7.2 will certainly do for WoT.  The new tanks are excellent, and the graphical and game updates are all well done.  The M18 Hellcat is almost all that we wanted it to be (it can’t quite hit 89 kph, and the option of the 105mm howitzer is missing).  Time to learn some Russian and make an account on their server I think.

 

Sandbox Vistas – I’ve shelved this for the time being.  The remaining options just don’t appeal to me all that much, and the announcement that Dawntide was shutting down, while somewhat expected, was ultimately very disheartening.  At this point, unless I get the itch to try Ryzom or Wurm, I’ll probably just keep a keen and interested eye on ArchAge instead.

 

Star Trek Online – Yeah, I know.  But a friend has been begging me to run some missions with him since it went F2P, and I was just a few points shy of my Akira and Nebula.  So I logged in last night and did one mission.  And I have a few things to say:  one is – who killed the graphics?  Its like a whole new engine in there, and it looks like crap, even with all the settings dialed up to max – which, by the way, is something I could not do with the original game.  Balancing that out though – praise the Alpha Quadrant, they actually fixed ground combat to make it manageable, and the skill system to make it less of a headache of WTH, and changed the progression to the point I breathed a sigh of relief.   I did one mission to finish up the jump from 19 to 20.  That same amount of skill points would have required me to do 3-4 missions when I was in the game before.   So now its time to claim that long awaited Akira and learn about that whole “duty officer” thing.  Its like the bizarre crossbreeding of TOR’s companions with your Bridge Officers and a far future version of Pokemon.  I feel like I have to catch them all!

 

And decide if I want to shell out some real bucks for that Nebula.